Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cities and climate change refugees: the Efe interview

While in Cali Colombia I was interviewed by the Spanish news service Efe, the Spanish language version of AP. The article was widely circulated in newspapers in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecudaor, Paraguay, Peru and Spain.

Here is a rough translation:

Migration resulting from climate change may have already started, warned American expert John Short in Colombia today, who also confirmed that the world is not prepared for the effects of global warming.
"Migration due to climate change has already begun. In Bangladesh, for example, there are climate change refugees who have fled their rural homes because they can no longer survive in such an aggressive climate," said the expert in an interview with EFE.
Short, who received his doctorate from the UK’s University of Bristol and is an expert on urban issues, geography, environmental issues and globalization, said the environmental changes "will become the new normal for everyone on the planet".
The exodus to major cities:
The researcher provided his climate change theory as part of a lecture presented to ICESI University in Cali, Columbia, further noting that this "new normal" will bring about a significant exodus to urban areas, which those who live in the most remote areas will see as an option for survival.
"No city is prepared for the unexpected migration that may be caused by climate change," said the expert, who noted that these new migrants "comprise groups with economic constraints", which complicates their adaptation to the urban environment.
Adaptation and mitigation:
The American professor points to “adaptation” and “mitigation” as ways of confronting climate change.
The first term refers to "how humans can ensure that the built environment accommodates the new normal," explained Short, who described mitigation as "actions to lessen climate change."
In order to exemplify mitigation, the expert mentioned alternative sources of energy like wind, which is used by countries such as Spain and Denmark.
Nevertheless, he said that "these options are being overshadowed by the current decline in oil prices."
He also referred to “green roofs”, referring to vegetation that is planted on facilities in order to reduce ozone emissions.
Regarding adaptation, Short explained that it is a more complicated process, given that the "new normal" is different in every part of the world and demands more resources.

"The problem is that we don’t know exactly what the change will be in different parts of the world," he said. EFE